Last hurrah for Manny?

Doesn’t look that way for Senator Pacquiao.

As in the last 15 years, Manny Pacquiao was the face of Philippine boxing in 2016 as the fighting senator continued to turn back the hands of time by crowning himself as the World Boxing Organization (WBO) welterweight king.

Pacquiao just fought twice this year, both in Las Vegas, the first against old rival Tim Bradley in April that propelled him to a November clash with a young lion in Jessie Vargas.

Against Bradley at the MGM Grand, Pacquiao came up with a convincing win over a foe he had difficulty dealing with on two occasions. So resounding was this victory that Pacquiao scored not one, but two knockdowns.

But a knockdown scored by Pacquiao in the ninth round was the focal point of the third fight as the crowd of over 14,500 roared in delight as Bradley was forced to do a reverse somersault before getting up and eventually regaining his wits.

Pacquiao was actually handed a disputable decision the first time they met in 2012 but Pacquiao exacted payback in the rematch in 2014 although this wasn’t as dominant as the third match that produced identical scores of 116-110 from the three judges.

Versus Vargas, who at 27 was ten years younger than the Filipino eight-division titleholder, Pacquiao was still fast and furious as he capped his lopsided win with a second-round knockdown that was made possible by his trademark left straight.

Save for the ludicrous score handed by one of the three judges, the numbers were telling as two submitted 118-109 apiece while the third saw it 114-113.

But the story of the night at the Thomas and Mack Center was the presence at ringside of Floyd Mayweather, who was joined by his daughter.

Mayweather, who beat Pacquiao in 2015, denied that his attendance was a prelude to a second meeting in 2017.

But fight fans believe Mayweather’s decision to see Pacquiao live was a sign that they are testing the waters for a possible rematch that is expected to do record numbers although not as massive as the one registered almost two years ago.

As Pacquiao continued to weave his magic, Nonito Donaire was not as lucky as the Fil-Am lost his WBO super-bantam crown against Jessie Magdaleno underneath the Pacquiao headliner.

Aside from Pacquiao and Donaire, Philippine boxing also drew inspired performances from the likes of Jerwin Ancajas, Johnriel Casimero and Marlon Tapales, who all won world titles in the second half of the eyar.

Ancajas beat up Puerto Rican McJoe Arroyo for the International Boxing Federation super-fly crown in September, while Casimero likewise sparkled in the same month when he mauled Charlie Edwards of England in London to bag the IBF fly throne.

But Tapales’ showing turned out to be the most dramatic as he had to pick himself up from two knockdowns in the fifth round before sending Pungluang Sor Singyu down and out in the 11th round in their slugfest in Ayutthaya and nail the WBO bantam diadem.

The Philippines could have ended the year with five world champions but Donnie Nietes relinquished his WBO light-fly title in a bid to vie for the fly championship in early 2017.

Casimero likewise did the same with his fly belt as his management team announced that the Leyte-born, Cebu-based puncher is training his sights on the super-fly title.

What do you think?

Written by Nick Giongco

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